Grameen Caledonian College of Nursing in Dhaka, Bangladesh
Similar projects have been successfully completed by GCU Professors and professional experts in other developing nations, such as Kosovo and Tajikistan, prompting Professor Yunus to request the University’s assistance in Bangladesh,where the present lack of trained health professionals is seriously hindering health development.Compared to, for example, the UK, where 680,000 registered nurses serve a population of 60 million, Bangladesh struggles with only 23,000 nurses for their population of 145 million.
The founding Principal of the new nursing college is GCU’s Professor Barbara Parfitt, who is also Director of the Caledonian Centre for Global Health and recipient of a CBE in 2007 for services to international health development. Professor Parfitt is based in Dhaka and she has overseen the development of the college over the past three and half years. Progress has been rapid, thanks to the enthusiasm and support of staff at Grameen Health Trust and a generous grant of $1 million donated by the Nike Foundation. Here, Professor Parfitt talks about her work with the project:
“Life has been non-stop since I have been here as the starting up of a new college means creating everything from the beginning. We have set up the systems and written new policies, academic and administrative staffs have been appointed and staff training programmes have been put in place. All the basic equipment needed to fit out classrooms, library and labs was purchased within the first few months. Offices were refurbished and academic staff prepared the curriculum and teaching materials. Hostels for student accommodation were set up and these now house 150 beds. Students take their meals in the Grameen Training Hostel. Two housemothers have been appointed taking care of the living arrangements for the students. Preparing the strategy and business plan for the college for the next ten years has also been a major undertaking but the college aims to be sustainable by 2016 with up to 500 students."
The GCCN has a strong team of academic and administrative staff, and a Vice Principal. Its most recent cohort of 50 students was selected from more than 200 applicants, all from Grameen Bank Borrower families from all over Bangladesh. The GCCN staffs short-listed 85 who were invited to attend a selection / admission programme. During the programme they were asked to take part in an admission test and participate in organised team games and activities that gave an insight into a range of their skills and aptitudes as well as giving the chance to measure their ability in understanding English. In spite of a demanding day, GCCN staffs had a lot of fun with the students and they all went away feeling they had had a good time. Sadly GCCN could not accept everyone and knew that those who we had to turn down would be in tears at the thought of not being accepted.
The college accommodation is situated on the third and fourth floors in the first Grameen Bank building in Dhaka. It is very pleasant with long balconies opening out onto a courtyard below. Land has been identified for the permanent site of the new college. It is expected that GCCN will have the new building in the next three years.
Over the lasts three years GCCN have had the opportunity to benefit from many volunteers who have come to assist in its activities. These have included academic staffs, clinical nurses and midwives, administrators and researchers. All these people have enriched the experience of the students and staffs.
GCCN look forward to continued growth as it move towards its goal of making this institution a Centre of excellence in South Asia for Nursing and midwifery education and practice.